New Imperialism

May 3, 2012 | | Comments Off on New Imperialism

The ‘new imperialism’ of the post-war period is really a continuation, under present-day conditions, of the old imperialism. In the 19th century, imperialism was based primarily on the colonial empires of Britain, France, Belgium, Portugal, etc. The United States, while it did not have direct colonies like Britain and France, nevertheless wielded a dominant influence over various countries, particularly in Latin America. It never hesitated to use its economic weight and military power to maintain its sphere of influence and plunder the raw materials, minerals and manufacture of those countries. Although the US prided itself on being ‘anti-colonial’, having broken away from British rule, US capitalism was nevertheless imperialistic from the very beginning.

In 1845, for instance, Congress annexed 390,000 square miles of Mexican territory (the equivalent in area of the original 13 American colonies). Not surprisingly, Mexico declared war on the US, and the Mexican war of 1846-48 followed. In his message to Congress in May 1846, President Polk asserted that the Mexican war was caused by the armed forces of Mexico having “invaded our territory and shed American blood upon the American soil”. In the 1890s, when the expansion of American imperialism continued, the US invaded Cuba and the Philippines, annexed Hawaii and other islands (Puerto Rico, etc), and launched a military and commercial invasion of China to plunder the country. If they did not have formal colonial territories like Britain and France, the US nevertheless exerted de facto control of these conquered lands.

In the post-war period, the old colonial powers were forced to retreat. The awakening of the colonial peoples, who demanded independent nation states and improvements in their economic conditions, gave rise to revolutionary struggles, which forced the colonial powers to retreat from direct domination. This was a big step forward. Colonialism, however, was replaced by economic neo-colonialism. Direct control by the Western powers, each through their own colonial administration, was replaced by the collective exploitation of the neo-colonial world by the advanced capitalist countries. This was reinforced by the military power of the Western powers, especially the power of US imperialism.

Walter McMichael


Comments are closed.

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind